I might have played more if I had the same security as Federer and Nadal: Borg Bjorn

Borg reminisced about his playing days, the intense rivalry with John McEnroe, and his decision to retire from the game at the age of 26 while his 50-year buddy Vijay Amritraj was by his side.

Bjorn Borg has never seemed more carefree as he has in the last several months. Watching him captain Team Europe in the Laver Cup, travel the world, coach on-court, and do interviews is a nice surprise for a man who was so sternly self-controlled at the height of his career in the 1970s—legend has it that he would not shave for the two full weeks during Wimbledon.


At The Leela Palace here on Tuesday, Borg was looking as carefree and carefree as ever, dressed in casual cotton shorts and a navy blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

Accompanied by his 50-year buddy and master speaker Vijay Amritraj, Borg reflected on his playing days, his intense rivalry with John McEnroe, and his decision to retire from the game at the age of 26.


“I was a very famous person back then,” Borg remarked. “I always saw hundreds of people everywhere I went, including restaurants and hotels. You’ll adore that while your career is just getting started. However, you would want a quiet life after a few years. That’s the reason I moved aside. I might have played for longer if I had had more security, similar to that of [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal.

McEnroe’s battle was with the Swede, while Borg’s was with the outside world; according to Amritraj, Borg was “as popular as the Beatles and more popular than ABBA.” Borg served as the benchmark for Americans, so when it abruptly vanished, McEnroe found himself out of position.


Borg said, “We played an exhibition in Tokyo after I stepped away.” “You just have to keep playing,” McEnroe told me. Why not, I questioned. “Because I need you there,” he said. He enjoyed constantly pushing me. What mattered most to him was that he appreciated it.

After the 1980 Wimbledon final, we grew close. He was known for being a bit crazy on the court and for expressing his emotions more before that. But he said nothing at all throughout that specific match. People all around the world greatly respected him since that was a different side of him. It was fantastic for tennis as much as for us. We made a significant contribution to the sport.


For Amritraj, the highlight of that 1980 final was Borg’s comeback, which came after the team lost the fourth set tiebreaker 16–18.

“How do you psychologically gather yourself after dropping seven match points in the fourth set? That is what makes our sport so amazing. It has shown us that we are more capable than we may have imagined. It forces you to the edge, launches you over the edge, and then pulls you back. Being able to survive that makes you a better person.

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